Our Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and our nation's senior police officers breathlessly informed us this week that a terrorist cell and their secret training camp in the Ureweras had been smashed.
Hundreds of police synchronised the storming of homes of Maori sovereignty supporters, anarchist revolutionaries and environmental activists, arresting 17 so-called terrorists. Apparently, police have been hiding out in the bushes photographing these individuals, some of whom were dressed up in military gear, shooting guns and even burning napalm.
Our secret police and political establishment must be wetting themselves with excitement at finally capturing "real terrorists". The only problem is that New Zealand is such a small country, everybody knows everybody else. Do people really think Tame Iti is a New Zealand Osama Bin Laden? What a joke. Instead of using scores of Darth Vader stormtroopers, couldn't they have just sent the local community constable to arrest Iti? It's not like he's ever resisted arrest before.
Iti is one of those characters whose sense of humour and mischief has entertained us for years. He has always been a colourful orator and at worst makes us face some unpalatable truths. At best he is a great entertainer.
Iti winds up the establishment to draw attention to political issues or, as some of his detractors would claim, to himself. His latest political stunts have included running around half naked in front of the Waitangi Tribunal and shooting a British flag on the ground. The local police know him so well that they didn't even bother to tell him off.
It wasn't until this incident was broadcast on TV that our political masters insisted that he be charged. The subsequent court case just turned into another case of political mischief and self-promotion which would have had him chuckling at the furore.
The young idealists arrested with him were traipsing around his bush camp. No doubt they were firing guns and if the police say they set off napalm, I'm inclined to believe them. But does this mean that an eclectic group of Maori, political and environmental activists were being turned into a terrorist army?
Some of the young people I know who were arrested are actually vegans who don't even believe in killing animals, let alone human beings. When you get the police searching homes of environmental activists trying to save snails on the West Coast, you know that things have got really silly.
There's been a lot of talk this week about politicians overreacting about the police actions, but I suggest that the overreaction has been on the side of the police.
I never thought that there was a need for the Terrorism Suppression Act and believe that it was motivated by our establishment's need to be seen by our international allies to be doing our bit for George Bush's "war on terror".
This week, New Zealand proudly signed up to become part of the US database of suspected terrorists. I would have thought that after the Ahmed Zaoui debacle, our secret police would hesitate to take the word of overseas agencies.
Let's not even mention the bogus intelligence from these same guys to justify the invasion of Iraq for their oil.
Sinisterly, the Suppression of Terrorism Act is currently under review and there's a proposal to include as terrorists people who damage economic infrastructure.
That is so broad it could include anything. For example, during the Springbok tour, people destroyed television aerials which were transmitting the rugby game. Under these new recommendations, they would be charged as terrorists.
The current young activists held without bail can stay in jail for up to two years without being convicted. The information that I have received is that the police have transcripts of all their phone calls and texts as well as all their personal emails. That can only mean that our citizens are being widely electronically monitored.
Considering it was the SIS who briefed the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, one can only assume now that our secret police routinely spy on our citizens.
What is disturbing is that many of these people's friends, work colleagues and family are having their homes raided and their property confiscated. I suspect this is more to do with spreading the net as wide and far as possible to see what comes up.
My opponents may accuse me of being pro-terrorist or at least an apologist for them: I am not. What I don't like, however, is the sinister way in which the Suppression of Terrorism Act is being used against people engaged in domestic political activity.
People have always talked about overthrowing the government, smashing capitalism, wrecking animal-testing laboratories and other such things. But have we had such acts carried out in New Zealand? Very rarely and very minor.
And even when people damage property or even hurt individuals in political activity the police have always been able to arrest them using the Crimes Act. The Suppression of Terrorism Act - even its name is provocative - is a political weapon against dissent.
Those of us opposed to this act are now seeing it abused in the way we feared it might. We shouldn't be worrying about the antics of Tame Iti. We should be instead very worried about the creeping powers of our secret police.